Most of us now work from home for at least part of our working week. While we are on client premises or at our company office we are very aware of the health and safety issues surrounding computer work; we have adjustable seating, desks at the right height, foot rests, wrist rests, monitor raisers and good lighting. However re-locate us to our homes and we find ourselves working on a bed, balancing on the end of a kitchen counter or vanity desk. Do we suddenly think all those health and safety rules and productivity findings magically cease to apply! Well obviously they don’t and we are at risk from strain injuries and low productivity just as much at home.
So why do we work like this?
Often working from home will have been something that gradually evolved so when we bought or decorated out homes we didn’t envisage this use and so we have no space set aside for it and we didn’t buy the right furniture to accommodate home working even if we had the space! This should not stop you re-evaluating your use of space at home and considering how you can make changes to make you more comfortable and crucially more productive while working from home.
Identify A Suitable Location
You need to identify the right place in your home from which to work and then make sure it is comfortable and safe. Start by thinking about what sort of environment you like to work in, do you need somewhere cut off and quiet or do you like to see the world passing by to break up your day? Where in your home does this environment exist?
You might need to move some furniture or an activity to a different part of your home to accommodate your working space but don’t let this put you off – a productive working environment will mean you can spend less time working and more time doing other things or will mean you can earn more so it’s a worthwhile sacrifice. If you live with other people you can negotiate the change in space by offering it to them for homework or their own office work in the evenings.
Good light is important so invest in lamps and get a strong white light from LED bulbs. Remember you can extend internet signals by running network cables or buying wireless and powerline adaptors so your existing range should not limit where you set up your home office. If you do have extra network or electrical cables invest in cable tidies and fixings to keep them tidied away and to make sure they are not an annoyance or trip hazard.
What I Need To Buy
Once you have located a good place for you to work from assess what your working area needs to look like and what you need to find or buy. Do you just need a lap top or do you need a large design table or books and files close to hand? If you only work sporadically at a computer you can make use of existing furniture (or just your sofa or bed) but if you spend hours a day at a monitor you really do need to create a proper desk area with good lighting and an adjustable chair.
If you have an existing injury to your wrist or back then don’t scrimp – invest in the best equipment to ease or prevent your injury. If you work for a business rather than own your own – ask if you bring spare equipment home with you, if not you might be able to buy spare chairs or other equipment at a reduced rate. In any case, if you need this equipment for work you should be able to deduct the cost from your income tax return so keep your receipts.
If you don’t have much room then the ideal solution is an area that is dual purpose. Consider replacing a dining table or breakfast bar with a proper office bench desk and use it for working and eating. Office bench desks have central cable tidy and power bays, are an ideal height for working and have supporting legs in the right positions to maximise the useable space. None of these features reduce their usability for eating on. In addition, drawer cabinets fit under them and can then simply be wheeled away when you want to entertain.
With the right piece of furniture, unutilised hallways and awkward spaces can be made productive! Home office bureaus fit up against walls with space for a computer and basic office equipment. When you have finished working – lift the table top up and it seals away all your office stuff out of sight and makes the furniture smaller. IKEA has several of these and some other space saving alternatives. Simple long thin office desks do the same job – see right.
If your business is expanding or you want to take on staff and host client meetings you might be looking for a more professional solution. You can rent office space but a possible option is to extend your home. Obviously, building work and all the planning permissions are expensive and time-consuming but there are simpler options. There has been an explosion in garden office design. These structures don’t always need planning permission and if they do it is greatly reduced. You can choose a simple single room or a more complex build that can incorporate a bathroom and a kitchenette. To keep costs down you can select a glamping pod and make a few small changes to make it suitable for a garden office.